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February 1996, Week 4


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"Richard J. Leskosky" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 22 Feb 1996 14:26:45 -0600
text/plain (69 lines)
On 2/19/96 jajasoon tlitteu wrote:
>I cannot believe the seriousness of now two posts concerning the spelling
>of one person's post.  If I remember correctly, the "offender" of the
>pernicious spelling mistake was writing to us all from Finland.  The last
>time I checked, English was not the #1 language in Finland, so it's a
>pretty good assumption that the writer may not speak English as a native
>tounge.  Would the two posters assaulting the misspeller be able to spell
>(not to mention identify) the Finnish word for "permuation"?  Would these
>posters express similar disdain for a foreign guest lecturer who
>mispronounced words?  I thought this type of personal attack was not
>permitted on this list!
For the record, I specifically did not mention names in my posting about
misspellings and questionable claims but did indicate that two posts were
involved.  The outrageous claim about there being more prisons than schools
may have come from Finland (I long ago deleted the original entry), but the
misspellings I cited were from an American writer.  I did not make
personal attacks but rather issued a request for information confirming a
highly questionable claim and a request for simple precision in spelling
and grammar.  I would, in any case, not expect a non-native speaker/writer
of English to get every jot and tittle correct in less formal communication
such as this e-mail list, but I would expect extreme assertions to be
backed up by proof.  Certainly nothing I've written in this regard was
intended to ridicule anyone but rather to obtain correct information and to
promote clarity of expression.
>Anyway, why don't you people respond to ideas of a post, instead of taking
>pot-shots at someone's spelling?  I don't have the time to run all of my
>emails through a spell checker and I don't consider the email format as a
>medium that requires carefully planned rhetoric style and form.  If you do,
>practice what you preach and cut everyone else some slack!
How can anyone respond to the ideas of a post when those ideas are
incomprehensible on the face of it.  And if someone is not familiar with
the critical jargon of a particular  writer (and one would have to be
knowledgeable about every critic of film, popular culture, psychiatry, and
so on for this not to apply), must that person  read all of that author's
work to determine whether an unfamiliar word is in fact a newly coined term
or merely a misspelling?  E-mail certainly is not as formal a forum as a
scholarly journal, but if you expect to communicate an idea you do have to
follow certain basic common rules if someone else is supposed to understand
As for other subsequent complaints about ad hominem attacks, it seems to me
that the only genuinely ad hominem remarks came from those defending
egregious errors in spelling and grammar.
In closing, I can only express my sympathy to all those whose minds are so
full of creative or deeply philosophical thoughts that they do not have the
time to express them coherently.  Someone far more cynical than I might
well add to their burden by suggesting that they seem to offer the very
deficiencies of their expression as proof of the high quality of their
ideas. And if anyone gets annoyed by  anything I've written here, please
consider that the offending passage may well just be a totally misspelled
version of something completely innocuous--the way something like "fascist
pedantry," say, may just be a misspelling of "fascinating podiatry."
--Richard J. Leskosky
Richard J. Leskosky                     office phone: (217) 244-2704
Assistant Director                      FAX: (217) 244-2223
Unit for Cinema Studies                 University of Illinois
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